Learning to be Selfish
Not everyone needs to learn to be selfish. But for those who do…this message is for them. I know that many people think that our culture, our world is suffering from people being too self centered. Perhaps this is true for some. In my experience there is still a whole group of folks (many of them women) who are doing too much, for too long, with little relief.
You Don’t Have to be Wonder Woman or Superman!
You don’t have to save the world. You don’t have to be there for every single person in need who crosses your path. You don’t have to keep doing so much. Especially if all of that “doing” leaves you depleted.
The truth is if something happens to you, no matter how much people care for you, you will live out the very real consequences of doing too much and putting yourself and your “real” needs further down on the list.
If there are people you are taking care of — children, aging parents, a disabled spouse or sibling — then it is vital that you give as much thought and attention to your own well being as you do to theirs.
Centering Your Self
What does it mean to be more selfish? In this context I consider it to be “center your self in your experience.” Too often our experiences are centered in the context of others. I am not saying that others should not be taken into consideration. We absolutely should consider our loved ones and people we serve, etc…
I am not advocating for people to abdicate their responsibilities. Instead I am advocating for self awareness, self knowledge and allegiance to self. Ask yourself what you truly need. When I did this I found that I really needed to focus on my health in a newly committed way.
Years of inadequate sleep and a fierce dedication to my work (for the purpose of providing for myself) and the past 4.5 years of caring for aging parents (including the death of my father) had taken a toll. I started to experience unusual heart palpitations and intermittent elevated blood pressure. Stress was taking a toll. Under the circumstances, I felt I had to place my parents before myself. I never stopped to think about what would happen to them if something happened to me.
How are You Really Doing?
For the past 3 or 4 months I was keenly aware that something was wrong. Something was wrong with regard to my well being. At first I wanted to ignore it. My rationale was “I don’t have the time” or “I don’t have adequate insurance.” Next came…”its probably nothing.” But the truth is that I was scared. Thankfully a friend in her own way reminded me that knowledge is power. I scheduled my doctor’s appointments and I got the information I needed to make better decisions.
Not just to make better decisions but also to prioritize my self in all of my decisions. I’ve determined that my life depended on my ability to be more selfish and to center my self in my day so that I can live and so that I can continue provide for myself and others.
Have the Courage to Clean House
One of the things I am learning as it relates to being more selfish is to truly assess my relationships. It is vital to explore your support systems. It is not always about having a large number of people who support you and care about you. But it is vital to have quality. I have often given selflessly in my friendships, family and relationships.
It wasn’t until I started needing support for myself that I became more aware of those in my circle who reciprocate and those do not. It is an act of selfishness to look at one’s relationships and ask “How is this serving me?” It is, in fact, an important question. It is selfish in the sense of centering one’s own needs in one’s own life. Not everyone who has been in your life should remain a part of your life. It is quite possible that some will have a less prominent role and others will step forward.
Ask for Help
Ask for help. Let’s face it. If you are anything like me, plenty of people ask you for help. Start with the people who are your close friends and family. Those people should be more inclined to help you. It can be a very revealing process. I have found that it was much more painful for me to go it alone and feel resentful than it has been to speak up and ask for what I need. In some cases, I’ve confronted family who share a mutual responsibility and obligation.
In some cases, the people you ask may need or choose to be “selfish” themselves and say “No.” I prefer the yes or no from those I ask as opposed to the distancing and absenteeism that occur when people close to you see that you need their support.
Most importantly give yourself permission to be selfish; to be self centered; to center your life around your well being. I want selfishness to be synonymous with something decent. Let’s get rid of the bad connotation. So many people put themselves last and bare the negative outcomes as a result because they don’t want anyone to think of them as selfish.
Let’s bare the brunt of that accusation “selfish” especially as it pertains to the day to day actions that will save and preserve your life.
Copyright © 2017 Ruby Blow. All rights reserved.